woodworking tools

Using a plane

You cannot learn how to use a plane by just reading about it. Skill will come only with handling the tool. It is therefore vital to get as much practice as you can on waste pieces of wood.

A plane has a broad blade which projects slightly from the long flat ‘sole’. The further the projection the deeper the cut and the larger the shaving removed. Also, the more difficult it is to work neatly.

A steel plane is far and away the best buy. The adjustments to the blade for depth and angle are easily made with turnscrews and knobs.

Planes are used with the flow of the grain. The commonest fault is to get a ‘domed’ effect. The ends are planed away more than the middle.

Pressure on the plane should alter smoothly from end to end of the wood if this effect is to be avoided. At the start of the stroke your weight should be more on front of the plane; at the middle of the stroke the weight should be equal at the front and rear; at the end of the stroke there should be more weight on the rear. You should feel as though you are trying to plane the wood more in the middle than at the ends.

A properly sharpened plane is easy to use, so if a lot of force seems to be needed the chances are that:

1 The blade is blunt

2 The blade is set too far out, giving too deep a cut 3 You are working the wrong way of the grain

The longer the sole length of the plane the straighter the wood is planed, but big tools are awkward on short timbers. For average use a plane 10-12 in. long is best.

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